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could augur otherwise than well for honest Ned ; Mrs. Goodison was as gracious as possible, and Constantia's smile was benignity itself. Honest Abrahams, who has all the hospitality as well as virtues of his forefathers the patriarchs, received us with open arms, and a face in which wide-mouthed joy grinned most delectably. It was with plea. sure I observed Mr. Somerville's grateful attentions towards him and his good dame; they had nothing of ostentation or artifice in them, but seemed the genuine effusions of his heart ; they convinced me he was not a man innately morose, and that the re. sentment, so long fostered in his bosom, was effectually extirpated. Mrs. Abrahams, in her province, had exerted herself to very good purpose, and spread her board, if not elegantly, yet abundantly ; Abrahams,on his part kept his wine and his tongue going with incessant gaiety and good-humour, and whilst he took every opportunity of drawing forth Ned's honest heart and natural manners to the best advantage, I was happy in discovering that they did not escape the intuition of Somerville,and that he made faster progress towards his good opinion, than if he had exhibited better breeding and less sincerity of character.
In the course of the evening the old gentleman told us he had determined upon taking his daughter and Constantia into the country with him, where he flattered himself Mrs. Goodison would recover her health and spirits sooner than in town, and at the same time gave us all in turn a pressing invitation to his house. Abrahams and his wife excused them. selves on the score of business ; but Ned, who had no such plea to make, or any disposition to invent one, thankfully accepted the proposal.
The day succeeding and some few others, were passed by Mrs. Goodison and Constantia at Mr. Somerville's in the necessary preparations and arrangements previous to their leaving London ; during this time Ned's diffidence and their occupations did not admit of any interview, and their departure was only announced to him by a note from the old gentleman, reminding him of his engagement; his spirits were by this time so much lowered from their late elevation, that he even doubted if he should accept the invitation; love however took care to settle this point in his own favour, and Ned arrived at the place of his destination rather as a victim under the
power of a hopeless passion, than as a modern fine gentleman with the assuming airs of a conqueror. The charms of the beautiful Constantia, which had drawn her indolent admirer so much out of his character and so far from his home, now heightened by the happy reverse of the situation, and set off with all the aids of dress, dazzled him with their lustre; and though her change of fortune and appearance was not calculated to diminish his passion, it seemed to forbid his hopes : in sorrow, poverty and dependance, she bad inspired him with the generous ambition of rescuing her from a situation so ill proportioned to her merits, and, though he had not actually made, he had very seriously meditated a proposal of marriage: He saw her now in a fardifferent point of view, and comparing her with himself, her beauty, fortune and accomplishments with his own conscious deficiencies, he sunk into despair. This was not unobserved by Constantia ; neither did she want the penetration to discern the cause of it. When he had dragged on his wretched existence for some days, he found the pain of it no longer supportable, and, ashamed of wearing a face of woe in the house of happiness, he took the hardy resolution of bidding farewell to Constantia and his hopes Whilst he was meditating upon this painful subject one evening during a solitary walk, he was surprised to hear himself accosted by the very per. son, from whose chains he had determined to break Joose; Constantia was unattended, the place was retired, the hour was solemn,and her looks were soft and full of compassion. What cannot love effect? it inspired him with resolution to speak; it did more, it supplied him with eloquence toexpress his feelings.
Constantia in few words gave him to understand that she rightly guessed the situation of his mind; this at once drew from him a confession of his love and his des pair of the former he spoke little and with no display; he neither sought to recommend his passion,or excite her pity; of his own defects he spoke more at large, and dwelt much upon his want of education; he reproached himself for the habitual indolence of his disposition, and then, for the first time raising his eyes from the ground, he turned them on Constantia,and after a pause exclaimed, Thank heaven ! yon are restored to a condition, which no longer subjects you to the possible sacrifice I had once the audacity to hint at. Conscious as I am of my own unworthiness at all times to aspire to such a proposal, let me do myself the justice to declare that
my heart was open to you in the purest sense; that to have tendered an asylum to your beloved mother, without ensnaring your beart by the obli. gation, would still have been the pride of my life, and I as truly abhorred to exact, as youcould disdain to grant an interested surrender of your hand: and now, lovely Constantia, when I am about to leave you in the bosom of prosperity, if I do not seem to part from you with all that unmixt felicity, which your good fortune ought to inspire, do not reproach me for my unhappy weakness; but recollect for once in your life, that your charms are irre. sistible and my soul only too susceptible of their power and too far plunged into despair, to admit of any happiness hereafter.'
At the conclusion of this speech Ned again fixed his eyes on the ground ; after a short silence, “I perceive,' replied Constantia, 'that my observations of late were rightly formed and you have been torturing your mind with reflections very flatteriog to me, but not very just towards yourseli: believe me, Sir, your opinion is as much too exalted in one case, as it is too humble in the other. -As for me, having as yet seen little of the world but its miseries, and being indebted to the benevolence of human nature for supporting me under them, I shall ever look to that principle as a greater recommendation in the character of a companion for life, than the most brilliant talents or most elegant accomplishments : in the quiet walks of life I shall expect to find my enjoyments.' Here Ned started from his reveric, a gleam of joy rushed upon his heart, by an involun. tary motion he had grasped one of her hands ; she perceived the tumult her words had created, and extricated her hand from his—Permit me,' said she,
to qualify my respect for a benevolent disposition by remarking to you, that without activity there can be no virtue : I will explain myself more particularly; I will speak to you with the sincerity of a friend-You are blessed with excellent natural endowments, a good heart and a good understanding; you have nothing to do but to shakc off an indolent habit, and, having youth at your command, to em. ploy the one and cultivate the other: the means of do. ing this it would be presumption in me to prescribe, butas my grandfather is a man well acquainted with the world and fully qualified to give advice, I should carnestly recommend to you not to take a hasty departure before you have consulted him, and I may venture to promise you will never repent of any confidence you may repose in his friendship and discretion.'
Here Constantia putan end to the conference and turned towards the house ; Ned stoo:l fixed in deep reflection, his mind sometimes brightening with hope, sometimes relapsing into despair : his final determination, however, was to obey Constantia's ad. vice and seek an interview with Mr. Somerville.
Tue next morning, as soon as Ned and Mr. Somerville met, the old gentleman took him into his library, and when he was seated, “Sir,' said he, • I shall save you some embarrassment, if I begin our conference by telling you that I am well apprised of your sentiments towards my Constantia ; Í shall make the same haste to put you out of sus. pense, by assuring you that I am not unfriendly to
This was an opening of such unexpected joy to Ned, that his spirits had nearly sunk under the sur. prise; he stared wildly without power of utterance, scarcc ventoring to credit what he had heard ; the blood rushed into his cheeks, and Somerville, seeing his disorder, proceeded :• When I have said this on my own part, understand, young gentleman, that I ovly engage not to obstruct your success, I do not, nay I cannot, undertake to ensure it: that must de. pend upon Constantia ; permit me to add, it must depend upon yourself.' Here Ned, unable to suppress his transports, eagerly demanded what there